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Wilson, Kelly Dae January 5,1992; Texas 17 YO Female
Topic Started: Aug 21 2006, 10:31 PM (675 Views)


Kelly Dae Wilson

Left and Center: Wilson, circa 1992;
Right: Age-progression at age 30 (circa 2004)

Vital Statistics at Time of Disappearance

Missing Since: January 5, 1992 from Gilmer, Texas
Classification: Endangered Missing
Date Of Birth: May 18, 1974
Age: 17 years old
Height and Weight: 5'7, 120 pounds
Distinguishing Characteristics: Caucasian female. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Wilson wears soft contact lenses. Her ears are pierced.
Clothing/Jewelry Description: A dark-colored rugby shirt, stonewashed cut-off jeans and loafers.

Details of Disappearance

Wilson was last seen at approximately 8:30 p.m. in Gilmer, Texas on January 5, 1992. She was leaving her place of employment, Northeast Texas Video on Buffalo Street, and heading to the bank around the corner to make her usual night deposit. The bank's security cameras showed that an individual did make the night deposit, but it is unclear whether or not the person was Wilson. She has never been heard from again.
Wilson's car was discovered later in the evening in her employer's parking lot. One of the vehicle's tires was flat; it had been slashed. The other three tires were intact. All of Wilson's personal belongings were inside the car, but her keys were missing.

A grand jury indicted Gilmer Police Department sargeant James York Brown and seven others on charges of Wilson's abduction and presumed murder in January 1994, two years after Wilson disappeared. Prosecutors believed that Brown, who had been assigned to investigate Wilson's case, was involved with the seven other individuals with kidnapping and imprisoning Wilson for over one week. The state also contended that they sexually assaulted, tortured and murdered Wilson while she was held captive, as part of a satanic cult ritual.

All of the charges against everyone were later dropped, two months after the initial allegations had been made. The cult was found to be nonexistent, a fantasy concocted by overzealous investigators. Brown maintained his innocence in Wilson's case from the onset of the investigation.

Wilson was dating Chris Denton at the time of her disappearance. He reportedly had a hot temper and police investigated him for possible involvement in her case, but found no evidence to implicate him. He died of cancer sometime after Wilson vanished and there were rumors he had made a deathbed confession regarding her case, but the rumors were not true. Joe David Henry, the owner of Northeast Texas Video and the last person to see Wilson before she vanished, was arrested on child pornography charges in 2004, twelve years after her disappearance. Authorities have emphasized that the arrest does not mean Henry had anything to do with Wilson's case, in spite of the nature of the charges against him. He has never been considered a serious suspect in her case.

Wilson's disappearance remains unsolved. Foul play is suspected.

Investigating Agency
If you have any information concerning this case, please contact:
Gilmer Police Department
Texas Department Of Public Safety

Source Information
The National Center For Missing and Exploited Children
Texas Department Of Public Safety
The Buffalo News
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Missing Kelly Dae Wilson From Gilmer Texas
The Tyler Morning Telegraph
The Longview News-Journal

Updated 2 times since October 12, 2004.

Last updated April 25, 2005.
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No relief for many in missing persons cases
Investigations weigh heavy on families, law enforcement officials


Sunday, December 10, 2006

In 2006, Longview and Gregg County investigators have followed up on more than 100 missing persons reports. Most have involved people who were only late arriving home and not in any danger. But a few cases surrounded people who vanished under suspicious circumstances.

Missing persons and unidentified human remains investigations present a tremendous challenge for law enforcement agencies and families, particularly if a case goes cold.

One such case began Aug. 3, after 23-year-old Brandi Wells of Brownsboro did not return home after an evening at Graham Central Station, a Longview club.

"At first, I wasn't very concerned because I knew she was going out with some friends," said Ellen Tant, Wells' mother. "When she didn't show up the next morning, I thought that maybe she had too much to drink, and was smart about it and went home with friends."

After Tant tried to reach Wells on her cell phone the next morning, and then received a call of concern from Wells' roommate, Tant said she knew something was wrong.

"I knew it right off the bat that something happened to my child — something that should not happen to somebody," Tant said.

From there, Longview police investigators began interviewing witnesses at the club, viewing security video and searching for clues near the scene.

They also wanted to know Wells' mental state — whether she was intoxicated, which would have made it easier for someone to take advantage of her, or even if she was happy or sad.

"At that point, we were basically trying to figure out why she was gone," Sgt. Darin Lair said, adding that such information could have provided important leads in the investigation.

Gregg County Sheriff's Capt. Ken Hartley said that in all investigations, the first 24 hours is critical to solving the case.

"You can make several determinations, such as who they were last with or where they were last seen," Hartley said. "Plus, if there is foul play involved, it gives the suspect less time to get rid of evidence."

Kelly Wilson

Investigators had evidence in hand shortly after the Jan. 5, 1992, disappearance of Kelly Wilson of Gilmer, including her car and witnesses to her last known whereabouts.

Wilson was last seen on a Sunday night, leaving the downtown Gilmer video store where she worked. Her car was found the next morning in the store parking lot with a flat tire, which authorities said had been slashed.

Even so, as the 15th anniversary of her vanishing approaches, the case has still not come to a close.

"I feel like Kelly's case could be solved, but I don't think it will be," said Waverlyn Wilson, Kelly's stepmother.

Wilson believes a primary reason for it remaining unsolved is what did not happen early on.

"We knew there was something wrong immediately, but I don't think there was any urgency on the investigators' part," Wilson said. "And I think there was some evidence lost because of it."

She also blamed her stepdaughter's drawn-out case on the fact that it has been passed between various investigators through the years.

The investigation began under Gilmer police Sgt. James York Brown, but ended up in the hands of Special Prosecutor Scott Lyford, who later alleged that Brown and a local family had been involved in Wilson's disappearance.

Eventually, then-Texas Attorney General Dan Morales took over the case, criticizing the investigation as incompetent and bizarre. He dismissed charges against Brown and the local family.

Although Wilson's case is now being handled by Gilmer police investigator Scott Richardson, the attorney general's office said it continues to assist. The Upshur County Sheriff's Department also has followed leads through the years, but Chief Deputy Bobby Sanders said his office is only assisting when called upon these days.
Four months into Wells' case, Tant already has expressed concerns similar to the Wilsons' about her daughter's investigation.

The case is now headed by Lair.

"I understand (Tant's) concern," Lair said. "But, as a supervisor, I was fully involved in that investigation from the start and nothing has been lost in that case."

'More attention'

Law enforcement officials are not the only ones who investigate missing persons. The nonprofit Laura Recovery Center, based in Friendswood, organized a volunteer search for Wells on Sept. 23.

Executive Director Bob Walcutt said the main mission of the group is to look for clues that other investigators might have missed. Along with several local volunteers, they scoured the area from the night club, all the way to Interstate 20, where Wells' abandoned car was found days after she was reported missing.

"When we get involved, we can provide something that has not been done yet — a large group of people searching, and more community attention to a missing person," Walcutt said.

The group was unsuccessful in finding clues during the first search for Wells, but plans to lead another search Dec. 23.

"Unfortunately, when you do a search, there are no guarantees, and evidence is not always found," Walcutt said. "But if it gets the community more in tune to the missing person, it increases the chance that they might be found."

Walcutt said that's why the group does not limit itself to recent cases. During the past year, the center has assisted in generating fliers in the Kim Norwood case.

Norwood vanished May 20, 1989, from a subdivision near Harleton. She was 12.

"That part of our job is about keeping the child's name and picture out there so that someone may remember something," Walcutt said.

Parents, while hopeful that someone might eventually recall something important to the case, sometimes take matters into their own hands.

"For years, we investigated it ourselves, searching abandoned roads and houses in the Gilmer area," Wilson said.

At one point a few years ago, Wilson briefly believed her search had finally yielded closure, when she found skeletal remains near Gilmer. They turned out to be from a large animal, she said.

Tant also has investigated her daughter's case, even going so far as to organize the second community-wide search Dec. 23. Organizers are asking that anyone willing to assist meet at 9 a.m. at the Elks Lodge on Marshall Avenue. Volunteers should be at least 18 and bring identification.

"This is about the only Christmas gift we can give Brandi," Tant said.

'Working it backwards'

Gregg County sheriff's officials have been involved in the Wells case as well, but mostly from an angle that law enforcement refers to as "working it backwards."

In October, a burned body was found off Fritz Swanson Road in Kilgore, and calls began pouring in to the sheriff's department from family and friends of missing people. They also received calls about Brandi Wells.

"Incidents like this (burned body) are media stories, and when the mass of the population hears about it, law enforcement agencies receive a lot of calls," Hartley said.

A dental records comparison later determined that the body was not Wells'. Since then, investigators have eliminated more than 40 possible identity matches from other missing persons cases, most from East Texas, according to Hartley.

Hartley said a description and information about the unidentified body was submitted to the Texas Department of Public Safety's Missing Persons Clearinghouse, and that investigators also have been in contact with out-of-state agencies to help them close cases on missing persons.

This stage of the case does not necessarily indicate that officials have shelved their efforts, Hartley said.

"In the natural progression of investigations, you get to a point where there is no new information," Hartley said.

Richardson said he was amazed at the number of unidentified bodies nationwide, but that scientific advances, such as DNA-matching technology, are helping investigators close some old cases.

When he took over the Kelly Wilson case, he said he started from the beginning and began "separating the wheat from the chaff."

"This case is 17 boxes full of information, which took me months to go through," he said, adding that he considered many of the files not relevant to the case. "But resolving a case like this is critical to the family, so we keep going."

Wilson said she does not believe her stepdaughter is still alive, but is still hopeful that investigators will eventually find something to bring the case to a close.

Richardson believes the Wilsons could have their closure.

"There is no doubt in my mind that there is someone alive that can resolve this case," Richardson said. "And when it's resolved, I think we'll find out that it was nothing complicated."

Tant said her greatest hope is Wells is alive and well. However, she has prepared herself for the worst possible result, and has taken the search for that result into her own hands.

"When people say 'it leaves a hole'—it definitely does," Tant said. "We are getting through this one day at a time and with the help of a lot of family, friends and prayers."


Who to contact

— Laura Recovery Center: (866) 898-5723 or www.lrcf.org

— Texas Department of Public Safety Missing Persons Clearinghouse: www.txdps.state.tx.us/mpch/

— Longview Police Department: (903) 237-1199 (to report a missing person); (903) 237-1110 (inquire about a missing person)

— Gregg County Crime Stoppers: (903) 236-STOP


"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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04/22/04 - Longview
Gilmer Missing Case Still Unsolved

Rumors of a discovery in a 12 year old missing persons case in Gilmer are unfounded. The arrest of businessman Joe Henry of Gilmer has created renewed interest and numerous phone calls to the Gilmer police department, on the disappearance of a 17 year old girl in 1992.

"I've received a lot of phone calls generated, 'Is Joe Henry a suspect, do we have a suspect?'" says investigator John Warren of the Gilmer police. In 1992 Kelly Wilson worked at a video store on Buffalo street, and that's the last place she was seen alive.

Her car was found with a flat tire in the parking area, and over the years, an army of investigators have tried to solve the mystery. "What everyone needs to understand is when we solve the missing persons case, it may lead us to a homicide. This case may lead to another you don't know," Warren says.

Adding to confusion, a mysterious anonymous letter sent to Gilmer police in January told of a specific site where police would find Wilson's body, but it was unfounded. "It named a specific location, but nothing was found at that location," says Warren.

And the recent death of a one time prime suspect, Wilson's ex-boyfriend, fueled more wild rumors of Wilson's body being found.

"Kelly Wilson's body has not been found, with the arrest of Joe Henry there are a lot of wild rumors floating around. The arrest had nothing to do with the Kelly Wilson case".

The FBI and Gilmer police are still investigating the case.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.


"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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By: MARK COLLETTE, Staff Writer
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STILL A MYSTERY: Kelly Wilson is shown as she looked at age 17 (left) and in a
GILMER - From a Gilmer video store to an audience of millions, Kelly Wilson became famous - for all the wrong reasons.

The investigation into the 17-year-old's 1992 disappearance (she would be 29 now) turned into a "circus sideshow," in the words of one state official.

Investigators working on little but hearsay created a mythology about a satanic cult, leading to what some describe as a modern witch hunt.

They indicted a whole family and even a police investigator, destroying his law enforcement career, straining his marriage and prompting death threats. They backed down only when fed-up community leaders asked the state for help.

The Texas attorney general, finding no evidence any of the charges were true, instead uncovered suggestions that the whole cult theory was the product of coercion by overzealous investigators - even to the point that they physically restrained children to elicit allegations of satanic activity.

The attorney general dismissed scores of indictments and effectively sent the case back to its beginning: a pretty teenager's empty car, keys missing, tire flat, going nowhere.

Shane Phelps says it was hardest on the parents.

"All the while these things were going on, the search for their daughter got forgotten about," says Phelps, who was chief special prosecutor for the attorney general when the state intervened. "Our chances would have been much better had all that not happened."

Now, rumors are again swirling across East Texas, fueled by a confluence of unrelated events, most of which have nothing to do with Ms. Wilson. Investigators say the rumors are all false.

What spiraled years ago into a "sideshow" is again humming with voices, with no ringmaster but the collective curiosity of a public captivated by gossip and a maddeningly unsolved case rife with dead ends.

Take, for example, the Kaufman Street yard in Gilmer, excavated this month to no avail.

Police and the FBI dug on the advice of a tipster who knew at least some details of the case not known to the public, but whose tip uncovered nothing but the public's willingness to indulge in speculation as fleeting as a death row vision.

"I had one guy write me from death row that he had a dream: He knows where she is, and if he can get a stay of execution, he'll tell me," says an incredulous Jon Warren, the new lead investigator on the case for the Gilmer Police Department.

No one knows - or at most, very few people know - whether Ms. Wilson has spoken in 12 years.

But that hasn't stopped anyone from hearing her.


Ms. Wilson's voice comes in spates, sometimes without any clear explanation, other than that those who have been enraptured in her story have their ears piqued, ready to call Warren at any hint of a whisper.

But in just the past few months, a series of events has bolstered those whispers to a steady din.

First, Chris Denton, Ms. Wilson's boyfriend at the time of her disappearance, died of cancer, not long after he thought he had it beaten, according to Warren. Denton had been thoroughly questioned early in the investigation. People said he had a bad temper.

The phone lines lit up: Denton had made a deathbed confession. Not true, Warren says.

Then an anonymous tip mailed to police in January prompted three months of research and finally led officials to dig up the yard. Some people say the letter came from Denton. No proof, Warren says.

"I still have a problem with the motivation behind the letter," he says. "I can't determine that. Maybe someone was mad at the person who lives there. But that person didn't live there back then," when Ms. Wilson disappeared.

Last week, police arrested Joe Henry, the owner of Northeast Texas Video on Gilmer's downtown square, who now runs Joe's Place, a hamburger joint. He was the last to see Ms. Wilson, when she got in her car after work. The deposit she usually took to the bank after work made it there that night.

Henry was arraigned on a charge of possession of child pornography and released on bond, in a case connected to Tony Roy Elardo, also of Gilmer. Elardo was sentenced last week to 20 years in prison on each of 32 child pornography charges.

Though it might fit with all the hullabaloo about rituals and child abuse, police emphasize there is no evidence linking Henry to Ms. Wilson's disappearance.

Finally, on Friday, "Dateline NBC" for the second time aired a two-hour special about Ms. Wilson, titled "A Touch of Evil," this time with updates about Denton and Henry, and an interview with Warren.

"They said they got such good ratings from the previous show that they should do a follow-up," Warren says.

Much of the show plays right into the din of whispers, and the piqued ears of East Texas.

"Was it about lust, drugs, or something even more sinister?" teases a narrator, as blue and red flames and flashes of devil masks dance in the background.

But anyone who watched until the end saw the people who initiated the cult stories recant everything they said - even the boy whose accusations destroyed Sgt. James Brown's career.

Phelps, the investigator for the attorney general, recalls why he was called in: Community leaders worried about "the laughingstock that the community was being made of across the country," with tabloid television news crews traipsing through the woods with cameras in the middle of the night; with frenzied citizens picketing the state Capitol, warning of a vicious satanic threat: "Today Gilmer, Tomorrow Your Town!" one poster screamed.

On Friday, a national audience of millions got to see it all over again.


Throughout the show, Sgt. Brown looked somber, beleaguered, even a little haggard - not surprising, given that his 12-year ride isn't over.

On a return trip to Gilmer with an NBC news crew, Brown still gets the sideways glances. He still wears the label: "killer cop." Even Ms. Wilson's mother, who has remarried, still thinks Brown is connected to her daughter's disappearance. She was one of the ones picketing at the state Capitol.

Brown's misery began in 1993, when the Upshur County district attorney recused himself from the Wilson case, and Scott Lyford was appointed to prosecute.

At the same time, local Child Protective Services caseworkers Ann Goar and Debbie Minshew had been investigating child molestation allegations against the family of Loretta and Wendell Kerr.

The cases crossed paths when one of the supposed abuse victims, a child, began to tell of satanic rituals.

Lyford, according to a case summary by a federal appeals court judge, hired private occult investigators Brooks Fleig and Steve Baggs.

Phelps says the group, which became known as the "Lyford Team," first met each other at a conference on abuse connected to cult rituals.

He says it's possible one of the children in the Kerr case had actually been threatened by an adult trying to scare him with "Halloween masks or something like that."

When the child described it to the Lyford Team, Phelps says, "they thought 'Oh my God,' and they just went off the deep end."

In 1994, eight people, including Brown, were charged with aggravated sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping and capital murder in what had become the story of Ms. Wilson's rape, torture and murder, part of a grisly pattern of ritual sacrifice in the woods of Upshur County. In all, nearly 50 indictments were handed up against 10 people.

Phelps says there was never any physical evidence.

"One of the main statements that stood out in my mind," Warren recalls, "was that (Lyford) made a statement that the fact that there's no evidence against those people proves that they are expert satanists."

In 1995, Phelps was called in. He immediately fired the Lyford Team and got the state to dismiss all of the murder and kidnapping charges, and 45 of 48 child abuse indictments.

He says it was a "bunker mentality" that drew Brown to the center of suspicion. State officials were told by the Lyford Team that "you can't trust anybody."

"If you challenged these people or you questioned any of what they were saying as not being gospel, then you were suspect," says Andy Tindel, a local attorney who represented Brown.

When Brown found nothing to corroborate the Lyford Team's findings, nothing to bolster the "gospel," he became the center of suspicion.

Brown would later sue the Lyford Team for malicious prosecution and false arrest, seeking reparations for the accusations that ruined his career and caused him to leave Gilmer after receiving death threats.

In a 2001 ruling, U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Patrick Higginbotham would find that investigators had used a "holding technique" while asking the Kerr children suggestive questions.

But the court ruled against Brown, saying the Lyford Team had acted on behalf of the state and was therefore entitled to "qualified immunity."

In 1995, Phelps went out of his way to clear Brown, even to an extreme law officers rarely take: He publicly announced Brown's innocence in the face of prosecutors with "inexperience, overzealousness, and a desire to be the people who broke this thing wide open, make national news, that sort of thing."

They did make national news. All the while, Phelps says, a group of parents was asking:

"Why aren't we looking for my daughter?"


Warren can name five pieces of information, or tips, that have led him to "exert more time and energy because there is a possibility there is some validity to it."

Asked whether he believes Ms. Wilson could be alive, he offers a less-than-encouraging reply:

"If you want to go with any possible scenario, technically she could be hiding somewhere this whole time and still be alive in, you know, Hawaii. There's never been any evidence that she's not alive, except the fact that she's been missing for 12 years."

He says it's "not an ice-cold case that no one ever thinks about," but he tells Ms. Wilson's family "not to get their hopes up," especially when rumors swirl.

But is there ever really anything of Ms. Wilson in the din of whispers?

"It depends on what you call substantial," Warren says. "Nothing has led us to find anything. But you have to look into everything that comes in" - he hesitates, then adds, "To some degree. There's not a lot of time to spend on people that call in, or write in, that say they've had a vision, and they think she's buried under the Pizza Hut."

Or that Sgt. James Brown, now working for the state prison system, put her there.

Phelps says there are still people in Gilmer who believe that, "and that just shocks me to my core."

Mark Collette covers Southern Smith and Upshur counties. He can be reached at 903.596.6303. e-mail: news@tylerpaper.com


"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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15 Years Later, Investigators Still Looking For Leads In Kelly Wilson Disappearance

It remains one of East Texas' biggest unsolved mysteries, and it sparked rumors of cults, kidnappings, and even pornography. A wound time has not healed in Gilmer, 15 years later, unanswered questions as to what happened to 17 years old Kelly Wilson.

"A case like this is a cold case, you never close a missing person, this is a suspected homicide, we are reviewing this case starting from the beginning" said Gilmer Detective Scott Richardson, who is now in charge of the case.

There are 17 boxes of files on her disappearance, there were hundreds of leads, wild rumors of kidnapping and cult involvement, even pornography. But the answers continue to elude investigators.

"Over the years hundreds, thousands of leads. The cult the pornography, I believe you're going to find had nothing to do with the disappearance of Kelly Wilson"said Richardson.

In January 1992 Wilson was supposed to be leaving work with bank receipts, that's the last time anyone saw her alive. Folks with we talked to say they want the truth , not matter how long it takes.

"I'd like to see it continue because if it was my child I would want it to continue" said Gilmer resident Carolyn Hill.

And some are still holding out hope she will be found alive.

"It's a slim slim hope but I'm sure it's still there for some people, im like anybody else in Gilmer probably, I'd just like to see it solve go to court , but the main thing is get a closure on it" said longtime resident Cloddie Henson.

Numerous arrests connected to the case have been made over the years, but all suspects were released due to lack of evidence. Among those suspect, Kelly Wilson's former boyfriend, who died from cancer in 2004. Anyone with any information on the case is asked to call Gilmer Police.

Bob Hallmark, Reporting bhallmark@kltv.com


"If you have a chance to accomplish something that will make things better for people coming behind you, and you don't do that, you are wasting your time on this earth." The late, great Roberto Clemente.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, any copyrighted work in this message is distributed under fair use without profit or payment for non-profit research and educational purposes only.
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